Have you ever tasted corn whiskey? Most whiskey drinkers have not. It is a peculiarly American product. The unaged version is considered whiskey nowhere else. It has been around forever but never has been very popular.
Heaven Hill is the only major distillery that makes and sells corn whiskey. Georgia Moon is their main unaged corn, Mellow Corn is their aged product. Other distilleries make corn whiskey for use in other products, such as blended whiskey, but they don't sell it as such. This corn, like the 'Indiana bourbon,' was undoubtedly made at MGP in Lawrenceburg.
Many micro-distilleries that sell so-called 'legal moonshine' actually sell corn whiskey. Ole Smoky's unflavored 'moonshine' is corn whiskey. Their flavored moonshines are vodka.
Corn whiskey is made from a mash that is at least 80 percent corn. The rest can be any other grain, or it can be all corn. It is the only unaged product that can be labeled as 'whiskey,' but only in the United States. It must come off the still at 80% ABV or less. If aged, it must go into the barrel at 62.5% ABV or less.
If aged, corn whiskey must be aged either in new uncharred oak barrels, or used barrels. Since bourbon and rye must be aged in new charred barrels, every distillery has lots of used barrels, so that's how corn whiskey is almost always aged, when it is.
Unaged corn whiskey tastes like bourbon new make, which it essentially is. Aged corn tastes a little bit like tequila. Either way it is hot and harsh and very vegetal. Like anything else, some is better than others.
Why the primer on corn whiskey? Because the rumored next release in Diageo's Orphan Barrel program contains corn whiskey, probably a lot of it.
At this point, all we know is what you can read on the back label above. It says the product is a mixture of 39 percent 17-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (KSBW) and "61 percent 4-year-old corn whiskey and Indiana bourbon." How disingenuous to tell us exactly how much 17-year-old bourbon it contains, but fudge on the exact mix of corn whiskey and Indiana bourbon. One assumes it's a lot of corn.
One report said the MSRP will be $55.
All of this comes from random posts on the internet, nothing is official although presumably the labels are authentic. Other than what is on the back label, there are no tasting notes. Maybe it's wonderful. The problem is, everything else in the Orphan Barrel line so far has been KSBW at an advanced age. This product leads with its 17-year-old KSBW component and hopes you won't notice the indeterminate but surely very large corn whiskey component.
This sneaky maneuver is par for the Orphan Barrel course, as recounted here and here. The market has gotten crazy, so maybe people will pay $55 dollars for a Frankenstein's monster whiskey like this. Stay tuned.